Pinot Noir is one of the oldest grape varieties in the world and is well-known for being one of the hardest to grow, since it's sensitive to environmental influences such as disease, weather, and terroirs. When grown successfully it can produce incredibly elegant, complex and often expensive wines which pair well with food and are also wonderful to drink on their own.
Pinot Noir is most commonly produced as a single varietal wine, with exception of sparkling wines such as champagne. It’s often matured in larger and/or older oak barrels so as to not overwhelm the delicate flavours of the grape. Most Pinot Noirs are intended to be drunk young however many outstanding wines will age well, developing complex tertiary flavours and may take many years to show their true potential.
Burgundy is the spiritual home of Pinot Noir however many New World locations also make outstanding Pinot Noir wines. In particular, warmer regions close to the equator which enjoy moderating climate influences can enjoy excellent conditions for growing Pinot Noir grapes. The most celebrated vineyards in Burgundy are found in the region of Côte d’Or which is divided into Côte de Nuits in the North and Côte de Beaune in the South.
Other regions in the world which produce outstanding Pinot Noir wines include coastal areas of California, the northerly region of Oregon, USA, Casablanca Valley in Chile, cool coastal regions of South Africa, Yarra Valley and Mornington Peninsula in Australia, and Martinborough and Marlborough in New Zealand.
In cool climate areas, Pinot Noir will have flavours of Cranberry, mushroom and even gamey flavours. In warmer climates of USA, New Zealand South Australia, Chile and Argentina, the wines will have flavours of more generous red fruit, such as raspberries and even black plum with a spicy note such as clove. Wherever it comes from, Pinot Noir will always be light to medium-bodied, with light tannin levels, racy acidity and medium alcohol.
Pinot Noir Wines can be found to suit most budgets, however, very good examples can cost thousands of dollars with wines from Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, Domaine Leroy Chambertin and Domaine Roumier Musigny being highly sort-after and also incredibly expensive! Better value but still highly drinkable versions of Pinot Noir can often be found in New World vineyards such as Chile, Australia and New Zealand.